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An Introduction to Middle East Politics
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An Introduction to Middle East Politics

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February 2013 | 448 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The Middle East has undergone enormous change since 9/11, from the invasion and occupation of Iraq to the events of the 'Arab Spring'. An Introduction to Middle East Politics engages with questions of democratisation and political reform in the region. It covers:

  • Historical Legacies; The Ottoman Empire, WWI, colonialism and the Cold War; nationalism and Islamist politics
  • Authoritarianism in Egypt, Algeria and Syria; political changes in Iran; the politics of oil in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab States
  • Intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • The recent uprisings in the Arab World, human rights, social movements and social media  
Each chapter opens with helpful learning objectives and concludes with study questions. Annotated bibliographies aid further reading, whilst the companion website provides links to additional material.  

This book will prove a fascinating read for both undergraduate and postgraduate students of Middle East Politics and related courses across Politics and International Relations.
 
PART ONE: THE FORMATION OF THE MODERN STATE SYSTEM
 
The Ottoman Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East
Introduction  
The Middle East in the Imperial Era  
The Middle East's Religious and Imperial Heritage  
The People of the Ottoman Empire  
The Emergence of National Identities  
The Legacy of Ottoman Rule in the Middle East  
Ottoman Rule in the Middle East  
The 'Tanzimat' Reforms and "Modernisation"  
The Military and Political Authority  
Europe and the Ottoman "Sick Man"  
Conclusion  
 
The Colonial Period in the Middle East
Introduction  
The Dawn of European Colonialism in the Middle East  
World War I and Turkey  
The Arab Revolt and the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence  
Balfour Declaration  
Sykes-Picot Agreement  
Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations Mandates  
The Republic of Turkey  
Colonies, Protectorates, and Client States  
The Interplay of Ottoman and Colonial Legacies  
Centralised Rule  
New Elites and New Institutions  
Control of the Religious Sphere  
The Cultural Challenge  
Dependency  
Palestine and Israel  
Zionism  
The King-Crane Commission  
The British White Papers and the Arab Revolt  
British Colonialism in Iraq  
Conclusion  
 
Superpower Rivalry and the Cold War in the Middle East
Introduction  
WWII and a New International Relations of the Middle East  
The Establishment of Israel  
The Cold War in the Middle East  
Geopolitics and Cold War Allegiances in the Middle East  
An Arab Cold War: Egypt and Saudi Arabia  
The Lebanese Civil War  
The Iran-Iraq War and Cold War Machinations  
Conclusion  
 
Nationalism, Islamism, and the Politics of Ideology
Introduction  
Ideology and Politics in the Middle East  
Nationalism  
Middle Eastern Nationalisms  
Political Islam  
Islam as a Political Ideology in the Contemporary Middle East  
Conclusion  
 
PART TWO: POLITICAL DYNAMICS OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST
 
Authoritarianism in the Middle East
Introduction  
Understanding Authoritarianism  
Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East  
Examples of Authoritarianism in the Middle East  
Conclusion  
 
Oil, Economy, and Development in the Middle East
Introduction  
An Economic Overview of the Middle East  
The Politics of Oil  
Liberalisation and Reform  
Conclusion  
 
The Military, Security, and Politics in the Middle East
Introduction  
The Military and Politics in the Middle East  
The Middle East and the Nuclear Question  
Terrorism and Political Violence in the Middle East  
Conclusion  
 
PART THREE: CONTINUING CRISES IN THE MIDDLE EAST
 
US Military Intervention in the Middle East
Introduction  
US Intervention in Iraq  
US Intervention in Afghanistan  
Post-Iraq US Interventionism in the Middle East  
Conclusion  
 
Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peace Process
Introduction  
The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process  
The Parameters of Negotiations  
Competing Norms and Competing Narratives  
The Israeli-US Relationship  
Conclusion  
 
Democratisation and the Arab Uprisings
Introduction  
Understanding Democratisation in the Arab Middle East  
Uprisings, War and Transition in the Arab World  
The Arab Uprisings  
Conclusion  

Supplements

MacQueen Middle East Website

Free resources on the companion website:

  • Chapter summaries
  • A timeline of events
  • Links to historical documents 

Ben MacQueen has provided the perfect introductory textbook for students of the Middle East, galloping through the region's modern political history, and signposting all the key events and issues in a lively, accessible and structured manner. Teachers of undergraduate Middle East Politics have been waiting for this one.
Emma C. Murphy
School of Government and International Affairs, The University of Durham


This is an expansive survey of Middle East politics that takes into account not only novel topics, such as human rights, environment and democratization, but also geographies that are generally neglected in such studies. Benjamin MacQueen captures the dynamics of continuity and change in the region and does so in a quite accessible manner to students and general readers. This is a comprehensive view of the region in the post-Arab uprisings era and an essential textbook on Middle East politics.
Meliha Benli Altunişik
Department of International Relations, Dean of the Graduate School of Social Sciences, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey


Teaching Middle Eastern politics during the throes of the so-called Arab Spring is both exciting and daunting. Exciting because the peoples of the region seem closer to genuine democracy than ever before, and daunting because we have few scholarly guides to this new reality. For decades, scholarship on the Middle East tended to focus on the longstanding continuities in that region, leaving students ill-equipped to fathom the sources of and possibilities for change. MacQueen's textbook is thus a welcome companion to any course that seeks to help students understand the region's newfound political dynamism. Written with insight and verve, and covering a vast amount of terrain with efficiency and accuracy, this is likely to be the single best textbook in the field.
Tarek Masoud
Associate Professor of Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University


The book by MacQueen is a dynamic text that will accompany its readers – both students and practitioners – in a journey throughout the political development of the region by highlighting the changes and continuities that have always characterised this part of the world.

Silvia Colombo
LSE Middle East Centre

A great introduction for understanding the most complex region of the world nowadays. Simple yet distinguished historical background, an objective approach to current events, and a great narration. Recommended for both graduate and undergraduate levels.

Dr Hakan Ongur
Department of Political Science, TOBB University of Economic & Tech
March 28, 2014

This is an excellent coursebook on Middle East politics. It brings together essential information and current politics. As such, students not only learn about historical contexts, but learn to appreciate how contexts feed into current affairs.

Dr Barbara Zollner
Politics , Birkbeck College
December 2, 2013

Excellent insight for those who are interested in middle east politics. Good lay out identifying key aspects. A must read for students who wish to develop their understanding of middle east politics.

Miss Sharron Stillyards
health and social care, northlindsey college
March 12, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters

Ch.1: The Formation of the Modern State System


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Benjamin MacQueen

Dr Benjamin MacQueen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University. His research and teaching focuses on the politics of conflict, its resolution, and issues surrounding post-conflict reconstruction with a specific emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa, with publications including American Democracy Promotion in the Changing Middle East: From Bush to Obama (London: Routledge, 2013), with Shahram Akbarzadeh, James Piscatori, & Amin Saikal and Political Culture and Conflict Resolution in the Arab World: Lebanon and Algeria (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2009). More About Author

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